I'm intrigued by the H&R 999 and I'm thinking about picking one up. Other than the fact that they're a breaktop .22LR revolver and they're no longer made, I don't know muck about them. I'd appreciate any info/opinions/experiences concerning this revolver.
Specifically, how well made were they? What barrel lengths were they made in? Any particular problems/weakness inherent to this revolver? How accurate are they? What is the trigger like? How are the sights? Finally, do you need to remove the cylinder to clean it? If you do, how easy or hard is that? Thanks.
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October 28, 2007, 05:49 PM
My first .22 pistol many years ago. Very accurate. I liked it, but unfortunately I traded it for new stuff.
October 28, 2007, 06:59 PM
They are probably the top of the line H&R revolvers. The break top action is a good feature- nine in, nine out and nine back in very quickly. I’ve owned a couple and still have one. It’s staying.
Accuracy is fine for a plinker. The trigger pull is good double and single action. The sights are good other than the rear sight will loosen if not regularly tightened.
Most specimens have a 6” vent rib barrel which I have. They did make a 4” in Model 999 and 996 (if I recall correctly).
They seem to be getting more difficult to find. The last one I saw at a gun show was about $250.00 in excellent condition.
They are great little revolvers that you can have lots of fun with.
October 28, 2007, 09:20 PM
I loved my 999. I ate many a rabbit taken with that gun. It now belongs to the man who took my first wife off my hands. Good deal, I think. :D
October 29, 2007, 06:08 AM
Thanks for the replies and info so far. The one that I'm thinking about buying is an older 999 Sportmans. It doesn't have the ventilated rib on the barrel, and it has the older, larger, checkered wood grips.
Here is a link from a post on another forum that shows a few pic of one that looks exactly like the one I'm thinking about buying:
Again, any info/opinions/experiences concerning this revolver would be much appreciated. Thanks.
October 29, 2007, 06:30 AM
Sorry, double posted.
October 29, 2007, 10:05 AM
I'm very new to the H&R world, but I'm "keeping" an H&R Sportsman (pre-999) for a friend of my wife's mom who is 81 and in a nursing home.
He asked me to "keep" it for him. I cleaned it up, and H&R collector, Jim Hauff, found me a replacement grip for it. (one piece wraparound, factory plastic). My friends Sportsman was mfg around 1936-38. He said it bought it used in 1948.
I have found the old H&R top break to be a great fun plinker.. I'm surprised at it's accuracy, and there's just something special about the old top-break revolver.
I think Jim says a general price range for these old H&R's would be: NIB-$215, Average-$100, and the rest in the middle. Of course if you find someone who wants a specific H&R you might get more for your gun, or have to pay more if you are the buyer. I should think my friends old H&R, which is in good shape, but not excellent would be around $150.
I recommend you go on www.guncollectors.forum and ask questions there, and you will probably get better advice than I can offer. ;) Another source would be: www.e-gunparts.com (Go to the forum, look for H&R).
I think the old Sportsman models (and the 999's and such) did have a weak area in some piece around the "top-break" area, but I believe Numrich sells a lot of spare parts to fix this type problem.
I am so pleased with my friends old H&R that I think I'll check around and find one for myself just for a fun plinker. I figure around $150 or so should get me into a reasonably good one, and I'd probably spring $215 for a NIB should I find one (and have $215 at the same time).
I recommend the Sportsman. I have really come to like the old top-break revolver.
Also, thanks again to the kindness of Jim Hauff for all the help, and selling me the grips.
Hope this helps,
October 29, 2007, 11:28 AM
I have one of the pre-999s just like pictured above. I haven't shot it enough to give a good evaluation but the fit and finish on it is much nicer than later 999s I've handled. Given the low value put on them, I'd look for an older one. They were designed to be a shooter's gun right down to the grips. There was an interesting single shot variant for target shooting as well.
October 29, 2007, 12:04 PM
Mine was okay for plinker. I believe they were only offered with a 6-inch barrel. They aren't bad revolvers, but they certainly aren't a Colt, Smith or even a Ruger in terms of quality.
I shot mine a lot. It shaved bullets and spit lead and gun powder back from the cyclinder. The sights also worked loose and I gave up tightening them or checking for point of impact relative to the sights. After a while, I was only concerned that I would not loose the parts as the screws worked loose.
Question is IS it a value for the price? Probably. You just need to know it is not and will never be fitted like a higher priced revolver. I later sold mine off after many thousands of rounds. That is when I started shooting Colt Diamondbacks.
October 29, 2007, 01:17 PM
The old Colt Diamondback has ruined your perspective!
(I'm a Cobra/DS kinda guy myself).
October 29, 2007, 03:23 PM
I like the top break design.... but mine has a very heavy double action pull and moderately heavy single action pull.
It also spits a bit of lead and the accuracy is so so with cheap bulk ammo and to be fair I have not tried alot of different ammo in it.
It was cheap to buy so I can't really see selling it...plus it's unique in my collection as a break action revolver and owes me nothing.
October 29, 2007, 04:12 PM
I wanted one for years. Purchased one new in the mid-90's. Sometimes wanting is better than having.
October 29, 2007, 05:05 PM
The H&R Sportsman was first offered in 1932 and was a the result of a desire to produce a Target grade revolver at a reasonable cost. Original prices were around $30. It was an amalgum of the H&R fixed sight "22 Special", which originated from the H&R Auto Ejector series and the Single Shot USRA Target Pistol (Model 195) - which was hailed during its life span (around 1925 to 1941) as the MOST accurate production target pistol in the world and was used to win many national and international "bullseye" 50 yard matches - setting quite a few national and internation records in so doing. The original Sportsman was offered in double action and was designated (after 1940) as the Model 999 and had the same special cut rifling as the Model 195 and specially hand fitted and honed lock work. A single action target revolver derived from the DA and was known as the Sportsman Single Action (later the Model 199) with excellent lock work, it was produced on a far smaller scale and geared towards target shooting competitors. Two models came out of the Model 199, the Model 777 "Ultra Sportsman", a 9 shot specially produced, high priced competition revolver, made only in mid 1938 to early 1939 and this was suplanted by the 6 shot Model 196 "Eureka" which has been called the ultimate target target revolver, made in very limited quantities from mid 1939 to around 1940. Both of these models featured specially cut rifling, cylinders the exact length of a .22 lr cartridge and lock work with trigger pulls of 2 lbs or less. Both are extremely scarce at this date and command prices between $550 and $900, with the 196 going in the higher range. The Model 999 DA also spawned the Model 299, which was a 2" barrel version and called the "New Defender". In the late 1930's there was also made a 3" version, but these are very rarely seen and I don't remember if they were given a special model designation (maybe the 399??). The standard barrel length for the Model 999 was 6". There are a "few" known examples of 4" barreled factory pieces. Models 999 and 199 were made in very low quantites during WW2. Just before and during WW2, a spin-off of the Model 999 was produced and stamped variously as the "Defender", the "Defender Special" and "Defender 38" and after 1946 or so, the Model 25 which featured a manual rather than automatic ejection system. All of these had 4" barrels. These models were chambered for the .38 S&W cartridge and apparently directed towards the private plant guard and security sector. The manual ejecting Model 25 evolved into the Models 925 (both 4" and 2.5" models in .38 S&W) and 926 (4" barrels in .22 lr and .38 S&W) were produced during the 1950's, 60's and 70's. ALL of the these were based upon the Sportsman frame.
All of these Sportsman and derivative models had a "bird's head" shaped grip frame (called by H&R the 'Rice' style frame) and could be fitted with any one of about a dozen differently configured one piece checkered walnut grips (after 1941 brown and then black nylon "plastic" grip became standard) which was attached by one screw through the back and into the back strap. After 1952, H&R changed the grip frame to a "square" shape and from then on, it took two piece grip panels, made of checkered "walnut stained hard wood" (mostly birch). The double action lock work was changed at that time and later again in the late 1960's early 1970's to include a 'transfer-bar' ignition/safety system (copied from the pre 1900 Iver Johnson "hammer the hammer" lock work.) In the early 1960's H&R began offering the Model 999 iin both the standard 6" and the less commonly see 4" barrel lengths. The 4"ers seem to command a slightly higher price today.
I have examples of all the H&R Sporstman and the spinoffs and variants (except for a 3" barreled Sportsman) made from 1932 up to the bankruptcy in 1986 and then some made after 1990 when H&R 1871 restarted production. My favorite of all of these is a Double Action made in 1935 or 36. It has an excellent trigger pull and the sights are perfectly regulated for standard speed ammo. In my opinion - any of the guns made prior to the changes of 1952 are far superior with regard to performance and trigger pull than the post 1952 guns. Currently, the "older" style guns, pre 1952, are selling for about 1/2 to 2/3 of what the more "modern" guns are selling for and are, again in my opinios, a real bargain. You will find many of the older (as well as some of the newer) guns in poor to good condition, because they were used A LOT. If you can find one that is in v.good+ or excellent condition, like my 1935 vintage shooter, you will be very pleased and surprised at how well it feels, how well it was made with regard to fit and finish (they were all hand fitted before 1952, so parts interchanging will require some hand work) and the accuracy achievable.
HK still makes 9 shot speed loaders for the Sportsman revolvers. If you get a good one, you will swear by it. If you get, or have owned, one that has been "used up" you will swear at it. The shear longevity of this gun, in it's several model changes and 10 or 11 variations, proves how well it was regarded and accepted in the market place - it had a run from 1932 to around 1996 or 97.
Here's a selection of pieces displaying some of the info given above:
October 29, 2007, 05:14 PM
I know my previous posting was like a book (there will be a book on H&R firearms history published in the Spring of 2008), but here's a couple pics of the USRA Target Pistol and also a later "22 Special" for comparison with the Sportsman series.
October 29, 2007, 05:32 PM
As to sight adjustments: All models made after 1933 have windage adjustable rear sights (pull - push two screw system) and height adjustable front sights - by means of a screw into the barrel rib above the muzzle.
Removing the cylinder for cleaning is simple:
Earliest ones have a "lever" on the right side, open the frame, keep the latch held up, push the lever, pull the cylinder off the arbor.
Later ones have a smaller "lever" or push button like thingee on the the left side of the quill. Same thing, lift the latch, open the action, push it in, pull the cylinder off. More pictures:
Note the screw for adjusting the front sight - this stayed the same from 1933 until 1998
Note the adjustable rear sights with screws on both sides and the"lever" like cylinder release on the right side:
Note: the "push button" release on the left side:
October 29, 2007, 06:59 PM
Thanks to all for the very helpful and informative replies.
After all these replies I'm somewhat embarrassed to say that I decided against buying the H&R, and instead had a local gunshop order me a Ruger Single-Six Hunter. :o
I have always liked their looks, but have yet to send some lead downrange with one. There's a purdy one on Gunbroker right now, "1 of 999", engraved, etc....a little too pricey but sure is a looker.
I am puzzled however why those folks who have problems with screws coming loose, haven't alleviated the problem with locktite or the likes. Seems to work on most other screw-loosening situations, why not an H&R revolver as well?
October 31, 2007, 09:22 AM
This was my 1st revolver. i purchased one back in 1984 for $70.00 from a friend (new in box). 4 years later my apartment was broken into and it was stolen and never recovered:mad:. I need to get another!!!! loved that gun
October 31, 2007, 11:43 AM
Just an after thought on my comments (screws working loose etc.)... At the time, I felt that I shouldn't have to use loctite and didn't. I was young. I carried a screw driver with me when I shot it. :) I would selectively use loctite now, but I really hate to use something like that on the rear adjustable sights. My other 22 revolvers never had a problem with screws working loose and I have a lot of them. Why did an H&R have this problem? The answer is "cheap".
The lead shaving and blowing of powder back was probably a slight timing problem and a cylinder gap issue. It was not worth spending money at a gunsmith to fix it or even try to address the timing issue.
I also really like the top break design for a 22 revolver. It was really handy for loading and unloading in a plinking situation where you are shooting a lot.
Nero: I think you made a good choice with the Ruger. I would have gotten a double action Colt or Smith as I find double action 22's a bit slow to load and unload. Single actions are fine with larger calibers; I have only one (41 mag Blackhawk). I do have a number of the single action Colt 22's though that are collector pieces for me. I'd like to pick up a 41 mag Ruger Hunter and a Freedom Arms in probably 41 mag and 475 Linebaugh/480 Ruger. Always something else to want. There is no end to it.
November 1, 2007, 03:12 AM
I have an older version with the 6"bbl and one of the later ones with a 4". Neither of them have match grade accuracy but they are a lot of fun. There is something that feels "neato" when flipping the top and dumping nine smoking empties.
November 1, 2007, 08:28 AM
You certainly don't have to apologize for buying the Ruger.. In fact I'll include a photo of the Ruger Single-Six Convertible I bought for my (then) 5 year old Son.. (He's now 26). I had his initials (SMP) engraved on the bottom of the grip frame.
I don't care for the Ruger pistols in general (except I love the old "Standard" 22 semi-automatics), but I think Ruger makes some fantastic revolvers. In fact in the nightstand next to the bed right now is a Ruger Security-Six I bought new back in the late 1960's, or maybe early 1970's.. It's always ready for that "bump in the night" noise we all hope we never hear..;)
I think of Rugers vs H&R's as comparing Apples to... well... something else entirely. The old H&R Sportsman I'm "sorta" inheriting is a blast to shoot, and like you I love the top-break, 9rds vs 6 and all that stuff. However the H&R's were not Ruger quality, not priced as such, and just fun plinkers. It's amazing to me that the old Sportsman has adjustable rear AND front sights... I think the one I'm keeping for my friend was of 1938 mfg... That's almost 70 years, and still going strong. My book says this firearm cost approx. $28.00 new..
So, enjoy a lifetime of pleasure with your new Ruger, and later on if you have the interest pick up an inexpensive H&R just for fun plinking.. :D
November 1, 2007, 07:28 PM
32 Magnum - what a great collection, I am green with envy.
I just acquired an H&R 22 Special, which appears to be very similar to the Sportsman. Firing pin is integral to the hammer, and it is a nine round cylinder. The cylinder timing is a little loose, and the cylinder stop does not engage unless the hammer is drawn back. Is there a spring that I can assume is broken and needs replacement? I don't seem to be able to find much information about this model. Do you know if some parts are interchangeable with the sportsman? Thanks for your incites.
November 2, 2007, 02:44 PM
The early 22 Specials were made that way - just like the H&R Auto Ejector series. The cylinders were freewheeling until the hammer was cocked - there's nothing broken, at least on that end. I have about a dozen 22 Specials in my collection, which span that models production from around 1928 up to 1941. There were several changes made resulting in at least 6 recognized variations. Pieces from before 1932 had a squared grip frame with two piece grip panels - after 1932-33 time, they were equipped with the one piece grip on the "Rice" type, bird's head shaped grip frame. It was at this time that the lock work was also changed and an integral cylinder bolt stop was installed to keep the cylinder from rotating when the hammer was at rest. 22 Specials throughout were not equipped with adjustable sights.
Except for the first year or two of production of the Sporstman - I don't think you will find many if any parts (other than screws and springs) that will interchange with the 22 Special. The Sportsman was designed and evolved as a separate line from the Special. The "22 Special", as was the Sportsman, were all hand fitted, but were a step below the Sportsman in price. Neither of these guns were "cheap" nor "cheaply made" before WW2.
Here's a couple "22 Specials" to show some of the differences:
November 2, 2007, 06:48 PM
Tommygun, Sounds like my gun that was stolen in Mpls (1988 or 89)) :eek:
November 7, 2007, 05:58 PM
You are a gentleman, sir, to so freely share your expertise. Thank you for your kind reply to bring my ignorance into the light of day. Thanks also for the 'bonus' of the extra pictures - It is always fun to see specimens in such fine condition.
November 7, 2007, 07:33 PM
I have a H&R 925 revolver that looks much like a shorter version of the many pictures posted. Its a .38 S&W break top 5 shot, I inherited it from my grandfather. I'd like to find one of those now, I always liked the looks of break top revolvers. I'm also looking for a schofield style revolver, I'd love to get one of those beretta laramies.
November 14, 2007, 08:57 AM
You seem to be an expert on H&R so I was wondering what your opinion is on the newer H&R 1871 manufactured sportsman's?
Back in 2000 when I was looking for a 22 revolver, I had decided that I would like to have a break top in my collection. When I began researching it I realized the sportsman was no longer in production...but i was lucky enough to find a distributor who had a few 4 inch new manufacture sportsmans in stock. I was able to grab one NIB for $265 which i did.
The gun seems pretty solid and basically well made for what it is. DA trigger is horrible but single action is crisp enough. I haven't shot it much...and it is in mint condition...but i have never handled one of the older sportsmans....so i have nothing to compare it too.
I like it alot....I'm just hoping i don't ever need any parts or gunsmithing services on it because there doesn't seem to be anyone around who can fix them...and there is a lack of parts available.
Any opinions you have about the 1871 manufactured guns would be most appreciated. To my eye..it seems like a well made piece which should stand up to lots of any current manufactured 22 ammunition
November 14, 2007, 09:39 AM
I believe Jim Hauff (BoBell@aol.com) can answer your questions regarding anything related to the H&R revolvers..
Jim was kind enough to find me an original (slightly used) grip (only one, it's a wraparound) for my friends "Sportsman" and I doubt I'd ever had been able to find one myself.
You might try and contact him.
November 14, 2007, 02:10 PM
Thanks PX15. I tried that email address but my email bounced back. Maybe Mr. Hauff will see this thread here and respond!
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